Musk Ox Counts by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers
The characters from A is for Musk Ox return for a counting book this time. A counting book should be fairly straight forward, it’s counting after all. But Musk Ox has different ideas. Must to Zebra’s dismay, he doesn’t even make it to number one at the beginning of the book to be counted as one Musk Ox. Instead he is on the page with 2 yaks. Musk Ox offers to fix the problem on the page for number one, but still messes up the 2 yaks page. Zebra is beside himself and a sulky Musk Ox heads back to page one on his own. But he doesn’t stay there for long! Expect plenty of counting chaos throughout the book though there is also some easy addition thrown in too.
I enjoyed this book almost as much as the first one. This one has the joy of returning to two engaging characters. As with the first, you never know what is going to happen on the next page, making it very engaging reading. Cabatingan writes the two characters with zingy dialogue and the book is a must for reading aloud.
Myers’ illustrations add to the zany book. He manages to keep crowded pages from being confusing as the number mount. He also uses the effect of Musk Ox and Zebra peeking through from other pages very nicely.
The result is a counting book worth sharing aloud to a group of preschoolers, and there aren’t many counting books that you can say that about! Appropriate for ages 3-5.
Reviewed from copy received from Roaring Brook Press.
A Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers
The story begins right at the cover with Musk Ox chomping on the apple that would have been what “A” stands for. Instead, he insists that A is really for musk ox. Zebra argues with him, after all there isn’t even a single letter A in musk ox. Musk Ox explains using lots of words that start with “A” that musk oxen are Awesome; they live in the Artic and even Alaska. Turn the page and you will see that B is also for musk ox, rather than baby. Again, Musk Ox has plenty of explanations for exactly why. This silliness continues through the book, forming a pattern until you reach the letter M. And I don’t want to spoil the surprise, but I bet you won’t guess what M stands for. This zany book is filled with humor, pure cheer and a jolly spirit.
This is not an alphabet book for those first learning their letters. Instead, children who know how the alphabet works and who are veterans of ABC books will enjoy it most. They will get the jokes that are being poked at more normal alphabet books as well as the more pointed humor of the storyline. Cabatingan’s writing, done entirely in dialogue, is a pleasure to read aloud. It has a natural flow and a great sense of timing.
Myers’ illustrations are simple and quite silly when called for. The personalities of the two characters come across in their body language.
A hilarious alphabet book that is guaranteed to get kids giggling. Appropriate for ages 5-7.
Reviewed from library copy.
Z Is for Moose by Kelly Bingham, illustrated by Paul O. Zelinsky
If you are looking for an alphabet book with more than a bit of nonsense, this is the one for you! I happen to be a huge fan of alphabet books that play around, add humor and have plenty of twists. If you are looking for a straight-forward ABC book, the title alone should be enough to have you looking elsewhere. For those of you as silly as I am, continue on! Zebra is in charge of the ABCs happening in the right order on stage. Unfortunately, Moose doesn’t want to wait his turn. He enters on D, knocking Duck away, messes up Elephant’s entrance too, gets his head in the way for Hat, pops out of the pocket for Kangaroo, and continues to be silly for Lollipop too. But the insult truly comes when they decide to go with M is for… Mouse. Now Moose is upset and rampages through P and Q, drawing scribbles on R and S. Zebra tries to stop him, but ends up messing things up himself until the happy ending at Z.
Bingham’s writing is filled with asides from the different animals. The book is extremely funny, the pacing is brilliant, and the twists are unexpected. There is a great tension built up as the letter M approaches, and then with the twist, it is pure genius.
Zelinsky’s illustrations add to the mad gaiety of the book. Moose is obnoxious but also charming, his emotions clear on his face. The reaction of Moose as M passes him by is delightful, the rampage of destruction is great fun, and his scribbling is clever.
It is clear that this is a book that was pure fun to create, since that is apparent on every page. Impossible to read without laughing and grinning, this is an alphabet book that is sure to delight. Appropriate for ages 4-6.
Reviewed from library copy.